Former WSCC student stars in "Willy Wonka" | Arts & Culture
HANCEVILLE – Former Wallace State theatre and choral student Daniel Bussey is fulfilling his dream to be a professional actor after getting his first big break with Birmingham Children’s Theatre, where he is starring as Augustus Gloop in Roald Dahl’s musical “Willy Wonka.” The production runs each day until Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon and family day performances are scheduled for Dec. 10-11 at 2 p.m. each day.
Bussey has been extremely busy since completing Wallace State this spring with numerous high-profile music and theatre credits to his name. He outlasted three audition rounds at BCT to snag the role of Gloop, the chocoholic youngster in the famous story.
Rehearsals for the “Willy Wonka” production started in early November and the play opened Nov. 29, just in time for the holiday season.
“It was so exciting to earn the role, and I hope it helps open doors to work in more professional theater,” said Bussey, a Dora native. “This ‘Willy Wonka’ play has a newer spin on it and is relatable to a newer and younger audience. It has the talent and sophistication of the older story, but a style and presentation like the movie Johnny Depp starred in. You can never take away the classical feel.”
Bussey graduated from Dora High School in 2009 and earned a music scholarship to Wallace State, joining the concert choir and Wallace State Singers group under director Tiffany Richter. It didn’t take long for Bussey to also utilize his talents in campus theatre productions led by director Lauren Cantrell Salerno, combining his two loves.
“I love singing, but really feel theater has become my strong point. In high school, about the only thing to fulfill a music or art was concert band. I fell in love with it in sixth grade and was part of concert band in high school, becoming a drum major my senior year,” Bussey said. “I was ready to get to Wallace State, where I knew I would have a chance to perform both musically and theatrically.”
During Wallace State Theatre, Bussey played the roles of Maurice in “Beauty and the Beast” and Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors,” along with ensemble parts in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Myths and Hymns.”
This summer, before Bussey secured his role as Augustus Gloop, he helped perform and choreograph a production about the “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey,” which is a book series made popular by Alabama native Kathryn Tucker Windham who died earlier this year. The show was presented by the Gardendale Arts Council and focused on the last book written by Windham. The idea to turn one of the books into a play was determined before Windham’s passing, so the focus of the piece shifted as it developed.
“We changed it to become more of a memorial to her legacy and the series she had created,” Bussey said.
Even though Bussey isn’t officially a Wallace State performer anymore, he’s often in the Ottis and Evelyn Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts on campus, visiting former classmates and aiding Cantrell Salerno in the recent fall production of “Guys and Dolls” as an ensemble member.
Bussey insists he owes much gratitude to Richter and Cantrell Salerno for the opportunity he has been given to perform professionally.
“The music and theatre departments at Wallace State have opened so many doors for me. I went in as another newbie to Lauren (Cantrell Salerno) and now have developed this great relationship. Not only did she help me when I was at Wallace State, but she’s helping even more after school and introducing me to the right people to gauge where I’m at professionally,” Bussey said. “I’m a much stronger individual and performer because of Lauren, Mrs. Tiffany Richter and both of their departments. I learned so much from them about performing and who I was and needed to be.”
For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.